Sunday, September 23, 2018

Childhood Separations

AP is reporting that several of the children who were separated from their parents by immigration authorities on the US-Mexico border have since been sexually abused by their captors.

Since before its inception as a nation, going back to the days when it was a colony of settler-subjects rather than a nation of “revolutionary” settlers, the US was a very welcoming place for all White Anglo Saxon Protestants of the correct denomination of protestantism. The best thing that can be said about US immigration policy is that after centuries of discrimination against anyone who wasn't a WASP, by 1944 it truly became a place welcoming of all immigrants, as long as they were from Europe.

The idea that the US is a rainbow nation of immigrants and freed slaves and all kinds of other people who now are “Americans” and feel “American” and have equal opportunity is one that largely originates from propaganda written by fine upstanding communists and other folks working for the US State Department during the Second World War. It was useful at the time for defeating fascism and facilitating a sense of togetherness, but it had no basis in historical reality and many of the people writing this stuff were well aware of that fact.

But the World War II propaganda was powerful stuff and it made its way into all of our history books, and in our wild fantasies, in the crumbling schools with their simplistic, patriotic textbooks we are a post-racial, post-xenophobia, post-class melting pot nation full of aspiring Pilgrims and Pioneers.

Not a country like Australia or South Africa -- a land of settler-colonialism with varying degrees of institutionalized racism against anyone with the wrong background, where a tiny elite of real estate speculators that included every one of the so-called “Founding Fathers” have practiced divide and conquer politics on their largely impoverished subjects since the first moment half-dead English servants set their diseased feet upon the ground in what eventually became known as the state of Virginia.

And as Barack Obama and George W Bush lament the passing of Senator John McCain and Bush makes inferences about his and McCain's comparatively less sadistic immigration policies, let's remember that the United States has never been the “asylum for liberty for all mankind” that the English writer, Thomas Paine, dreamed about.

If we ever hope the US might become an actual asylum for liberty for all people, we can start by recognizing our history, up to and including the present moment. The Indian schools only began to close their doors in the 1970's. Many of the people who kidnapped and tortured Indian children at these so-called schools are still alive today, living in a suburb near you. Ask them if the US is a place that kidnaps and sexually abuses children. Ask any Indian, especially my age or older.

And as for immigrants, if you, like me, are descended from those immigrants who were allowed to become citizens of this country, then you are likely descended from the types of Europeans who were considered to be racially inferior and were treated as such. My immigrant ancestors were from the places in Europe where when they got here, the work available to them involved both children and women working in the textile, breathing dust all day, and dying of blacklung sometime in their twenties, typically.

That's the United States that I come from. If you want to attempt to develop a solid grip on the United States that John McCain, George W Bush and Barack Obama come from, go visit Disneyland, watch some good World War II propaganda reels. In the meantime, here's a song about reality.

She left late at night out of sight of the gangs
The most violent place in the West
Just the clothes on her back to escape the attack
With one child held to her breast
For weeks they would go through Mexico
Where Rosita and so many others
Would learn too late that the United States
Takes babies away from their mothers

When Rosita was younger the future looked brighter
But then came 2009
A junta, a coup, and prospects were few
As the bodies were stacked up in lines
She tried to stay but there was no way
When they kidnapped and tortured her brother
So she got to the border where they're following orders
To take babies away from their mothers

She thought she might stay in Monterrey
But the gunmen were always so near
She knew she had to push on, make it to Houston
Where she might live a life without fear
Their journey was done – Rosita, her son
At the border they held one another
Oh, how he wailed as they took her to jail
And tore him from the arms of his mother

She left late at night out of sight of the gangs
The most violent place in the West
Just the clothes on her back to escape the attack
With one child held to her breast 

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